Galeria Filomena Soares, Lisbon, Portugal
20 Sep – 10 Nov 2012
Filomena Soares Gallery presents for the first time in Portugal a solo exhibition by the American artist Slater Bradley (San Francisco, 1975), entitled Melancholia. The inauguration is scheduled for September 20, at 21:30, with the presence of the artist. The exhibition will be open until 10 November 2012. The work that Slater Bradley (1975, San Francisco, USA) has developed since the beginning of his career reflects, to a large extent, the conditions of social recognition - collective and individual - through the exacerbation of the "I" and/or the figure of the "other". This research has revealed very strong images that pertinently question the place or the responsibility of the artist himself in his society and, consequently, the place of each one of us before a certain artist or situation. Frequently, the artist intervenes with painting on iconic images collected from references of contemporary alternative culture, "pop" culture and the 90s. Ian Curtis, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, among others, have served as alter-egos for a clear search for his own identity. As if, through these historical figures of his history, the artist were questioning his own intrinsic characteristics in confrontation with the extrinsic community that receives him. In the exhibition at Filomena Soares Gallery, the artist seems to deviate slightly from his initial assumptions. The public figures have been replaced by the nudity of a single woman in various sensual and intimate poses. The photographs are subjected to two distinct actions: first they are painted with silver marker and then they are crumpled. If the first action reveals a latent desire for the image and, necessarily, for the portrayed, the second may reveal a disappointment or an unfulfillable desire. Thus, and without knowing the story behind it, we may be facing one of the artist's most personal and intimate works. However, and despite reflecting the same presupposition, this more introspective perspective, to the detriment of the public, exponents the reflection on the individual identity of each one, where personal events are catalysing influences on our way of seeing and acting in the near future. And this feeling is called Melancholia. Slater Bradley writes in direct speech: In 1993, Charles Ray produced an issue of photographs for Parkett magazine entitled "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World". The issue featured a set of nine 10 x 15 cm colour prints of German supermodel Tatjana Patitiz. Ray's subversive action in his editorial was to take Patitz off her pedestal by photographing her completely relaxed, without make-up, resting in her home with her dog and a large sunflower nearby, totally at ease. He turned the supermodel into the girl next door. Louise Neri, who collaborated with Ray on the final project for Parkett, told me that Charlie wanted the photographs to be of the type and size intended for the fridge door, like the kind a couple might have at home, as a charming and modest gesture. By using a Nick Knight airbrush to burn Patitz's hair for the magazine cover, Ray used the space of an elitist art publication and turned it into a disposable monthly. However, instead of advertising fashion, the cover was a photographic sculpture about a crush on a girl next door, a girl who just happened to be a supermodel. When I met a similarly radiant, down-to-earth German model Alina at a party in Williamsburg last June, Ray's sculpture returned to me. The idealism and romanticism deconstructed in Ray's "World's Most Beautiful Woman" would become the starting point for the journey of "Melancholia." Months later, I photographed Alina for my Perfect Empathy series. In "Melancholia", I included five new crumpled silver marker drawings. In one of the photographs, Alina is casting a leering glance at the camera. And, because the look of this piece reminded me of many of the Calvin Klein ads from the 1980s, we started jokingly calling her: 'Calvin Klein Alina'. At that time, as I was working on this series of photographs, something unbelievable happened: the fashion magazine WWD featured my 2008 design Perfect Empathy (Sara 02) as the inspiration for the new Fall/Winter women's collection by Francisco Costa. Magically, Calvin Klein had been summoned by "Calvin Klein Alina" through a wrinkle in time. My head exploded! When my assistants put my head back, I looked at the old Patitz again. Of course! She was the famous Calvin Klein model of the 1980s. I fell to the side... everything had taken a complete turn. Through melancholy I found the most beautiful woman in the world.